Veterans have helped protect our country, but do not always get the care they deserve at Department of Veterans Affairs nursing homes across the country. After USA Today and The Boston Globe revealed a disturbing lack of care at Veteran nursing homes, new inspection reports have been released to the public.
These newly released inspection reports reveal that Veterans Association nursing homes are often even worse than private-sector facilities. Privately-contracted inspectors cited 52 out of 99 Veterans Association nursing homes for serious deficiencies that cause "actual harm" to residents, three facilities for placing veterans' health and safety in "immediate jeopardy," and eight facilities for both "harm" and "jeopardy." These terms are standard in the nursing home industry, but it is rare to actually receive such serious citations at non-Veterans Administration nursing facilities.
Examples of these serious issues include failing to prevent and treat bed sores (also called pressure ulcers), failing to follow simple protocols to prevent and control infections, failing to prevent patients from falling leading to head and bodily injuries, improper monitoring, and exposure to hazardous conditions. Such hazardous conditions include scalding hot water, which was common at many facilities. Residents with impairments in perceiving pain or heat, such as dementia patients, and residents on certain medications are at risk for serious burns at those facilities. Only seven facilities in the United States passed inspections with no identified problems.
According to an article by USA Today, taxpayers pay $1,125 per day for a veteran to receive care in a Veterans Association nursing home, compared to an average of $296 per night in private facilities and $174 per night in state-run facilities. Officials argue that the rates are not comparable because Veterans Association nursing costs include hospital care, whereas other nursing facilities do not include that. Caring for veterans is also often more expensive due to military-related ailments. Regardless, there is no excuse for such poor care of vulnerable veterans.
These inspections revealed findings from Veterans Association nursing homes across the country, including North Carolina, Tennessee, Kentucky, and Georgia. The Fayetteville VA Medical Center in Fayetteville, NC and the W.G. Hefner VA Medical Center in Salisbury, NC both caused actual harm to residents by failing to properly care for them. Inspectors found that these facilities failed to ensure new bed sores did not form, failed to properly treat bed sores, and allowed infections to develop.
At the James H. Quillen VA Medical Center in Mountain Home, TN, inspectors found an unstageable pressure ulcer, and that residents were not properly watched, leaving them at risk for accidents, including cigarette burns. At the Alvin C. York VA Medical Center in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, a resident experienced unrelieved, excruciating pain for over 24 hours, despite crying, moaning, and yelling for help. Another resident developed an unstageable pressure ulcer on his heel. Inspectors also found residents were not free from unnecessary drugs, meaning that the facility was over-medicating patients (in our experience to lessen the amount of time nursing staff had to spend providing care).
The Lexington VA Medical Center: Leestown Division in Lexington, KY was noted for a medication error rate of almost 10%. The facility also failed to maintain an infection prevention and control program.
The Augusta VA Medical Center in Augusta, GA, inspectors found pressure sores on multiple residents, failure to provide proper supervision to prevent accidents, accident hazards in the environment, failure to provide acceptable nutrition leading to significant weight loss, failure to maintain an infection prevention and control program, and over 10% medication error.
If you or a loved one have been hurt at a Veterans Association nursing home or facility, or any other nursing home in North Carolina, Tennessee, Kentucky, or Georgia, contact the attorneys at Daniel Pleasant Holoman, LLP. Statutes of limitations place limits on the amount of time you have to file a claim, and delay could potentially keep you from getting the justice you deserve, so don't delay.